Bitter Palghar fight, video row forgotten? BJP looks to woo Shiv Sena again

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis looks to estranged ally amid difficulties for the BJP
Days after estranged National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies -- the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena -- ran an acrimonious campaign against each other ahead of the Palghar bypoll, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday called on BJP office-bearers to try for a pre-poll alliance with the saffron ally.     

"Fadnavis asked the party's state office-bearers to try for a pre-poll alliance with the Shiv Sena. But, he said that if the alliance does not materialise, we should prepare to contest alone," Raosaheb Danve, the BJP's state unit chief, told news agencies on Monday. 

The allies had exchanged sharp barbs during campaigning for the Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya by-polls, held on May 28. While the BJP won Palghar by a margin of 29,572 votes, it lost Bhandara-Gondiya to the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine.  

A few days ahead of the by-election, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray released an audio clip, purportedly of Fadnavis asking BJP workers to use all possible means to win the by-election.  

Subsequently, Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut launched a scathing attack on Fadnavis, saying that the chief minister is full of arrogance. "We have all seen that in politics, even a dog starts considering himself a tiger after coming to power," Raut had told agencies.

In response, the BJP targeted Shiv Sena for "not acknowledging" the "achievements" of the Narendra Modi government in the past four years. 

BJP Sena's 'biggest political enemy'? 

The chasm between the Sena, one of the oldest allies in the NDA, and the BJP grew further after the announcement of by-poll results.

The Sena has alleged that it lost the by-election due to BJP's "alliance" with the Election Commission (EC), use of police machinery and trickery of 'trash-like' EVMs. 

"Our country can no longer be called the largest democracy in the world. EVMs have spoilt the democracy. Those in power at present have made democracy their mistress with their autocratic mindset," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.

Following the results, the party had even termed BJP its biggest "political enemy".  

Sena shares dais with Opposition   

Although Sena's relations with the BJP have not been cordial for quite some time now, the party had always indicated that it would not move into the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) camp. Invited to H D Kumaraswamy's swearing-in ceremony as Karnataka chief minister a few days before the by-polls, the Shiv Sena had politely declined to share the stage with other Opposition leaders. 

However, the party is now reportedly willing to share the dais with the Opposition. The Times of India reported that the Shiv Sena on Sunday shared the dais with the Congress, the NCP, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) to protest against the Modi government's flagship bullet train project at a programme organised in Palghar.      
With agency inputs

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel